Personalized Learning March 30, 2023

What is Personalized Learning and How Does it Work?

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What is Personalized Learning and How Does it Work?

It happens too often that the class ends, but some students are left with doubts and questions, while others are bored because the last hour of the lecture was spent on material already understood.

Learners have different learning styles, and one-size-fits-all student learning methods are failing. Hence, this reality fuels the rise of personalized learning and adaptive learning technologies in modern education.

Instructors cannot always stop the entire session to help one or two students who’ve fallen behind. However, they also can’t ignore learners who learn at different paces. Differentiation is sometimes way too challenging to manage for group instruction.

Educators need flexible learning plans, and that’s where personalized learning strategies can prove helpful.

What is Personalized Learning?

Personalized learning takes a different path from the traditional one-size-fits-all classroom model that teaches a standard curriculum to all learners with little to no differentiation. Instead, it tailors personal learning plans to each learner’s individual skills, knowledge, interests, and learning styles.

Personalized Learning

A crucial component of these individual plans is that they are developed through a collaborative effort of students and educators. So, students feel more empowered when they take ownership of their classroom experiences and get involved in the learning process.

Some of the critical elements of personalized learning are;

  • Lessons are developed considering students’ interests.
  • Lesson plans, including teaching style, content, and goals, are geared toward unique student needs.
  • Educators adjust the pace of teaching to suit individual students; lessons move at the speed that suits student learning. 
  • Students participate in the learning process and guide the lessons around what they want and how they want to learn it.
  • Stakeholders use technology to achieve personalized learning goals.

Therefore, personalized learning encompasses developing customized lesson plans for students that reflect their needs and interests and using technology to help guide this individualized learning.

Benefits of Personalized Learning

A personalized learning environment benefits learners and educators in traditional or online classrooms. It offers tailored learning experiences for students to pursue their interests at their own pace, enabling instructors to focus on support, guidance, and long-term planning. Here are some of the advantages of adopting personalized learning strategies in your classrooms;

Benefits of Personalized Learning

Enables Students To Master Learning

When learners can work at their own pace and in a way that best suits their learning styles, they become empowered to master every subject in the curriculum. In conventional classrooms, teachers need to teach lessons at a certain pace, which can leave some learners behind and can make faster learners disinterested.

Enables Students To Master Learning

Nonetheless, with a personalized learning approach, each learner works through lessons at a pace that encourages them to absorb the material and master the learning content properly.

Gives Students Agency

Personalized learning allows learners to take control of their education and plan for their own future. Eventually, it helps educators to keep them engaged in the learning process. It motivates students to find and explore their passions and to discover different learning ways. Not only do they learn from their teachers and through self-guided learning, but they are also encouraged to work closely with their peers to share knowledge, skills, and common interests. Personalized learning allows students to direct their learning according to their interests and needs.

Cultivates Soft Skills

A personalized learning environment teaches necessary skills beyond conventional subjects like English, Maths, and History. It focuses on developing soft skills like creativity, empathy, collaboration, and communication. These skills are crucial as learners prepare for an uncertain future.

Cultivates Soft Skills

Although we do not know how technology will shape the job market in the coming decades, a recent study by McKinsey Global Institute reveals that up to 30 percent of the hours worked globally will get automated by 2030. However, it’s the soft skills that will still be in demand in an automated world. By equipping learners with these transferable skills, personalized learning prepares them for an unpredictable future job market.

Improved Learner Feedback

A personalized learning framework utilizes technology to enhance the classroom learning experience. Moreover, technology empowers educators to provide prompt and timely feedback using tailored quizzes and personal assessments for each student. As a result, learners, parents, and instructors can better understand how well a student is learning new study materials and address any knowledge gaps in real-time.

Improved Learner Feedback

Encourages Better Collaboration

Collaboration is an essential part of personalized learning. Learners and instructors work together to set learning goals and plans that meet the needs of students and the academic curriculum’s requirements. Consequently, students are motivated to work closely with their peers to share knowledge and skills and learn together through informal knowledge sharing and group projects.

Encourages Better Collaboration

Helps Educators Save Time

By leveraging technology, personalized learning aids educators to save time on administrative tasks, so they can concentrate on supporting learners in their individual learning and troubleshooting when problems arise. Besides, e-Learning programs can help cut down on instructors’ marking time.

Helps Educators Save Time

In addition, personalized learning involves less classroom lecturing, so educators can focus on working one-on-one with learners. Moreover, classroom technology usually allows parents to get an insight into how their children are doing in school, from reading about upcoming assignments and tasks to viewing their recent grades. Hence, parents can stay up to date without the added burden on teachers.

Enhances Academic Performance

The most significant benefit of implementing personalized learning in virtual and in-person classrooms is boosting academic performance and success rates.

Enhances Academic Performance

In addition, personalized learning builds relationships between teachers and students, allowing learners to learn at their own pace and encouraging them to pursue their interests. Thus, classroom performance improves when educational institutions switch from traditional to personalized learning.

How Personalized Learning Works?

No two institutions using personalized learning will look the same. However, there are four widely used approaches that educational organizations follow. Each approach sets high expectations for all learners and aligns their learning to a rigorous set of standards.

How Personalized Learning Works?

Institutions Using Personalized Learning Paths

This type of institution assists each student in customizing a learning path that adapts or responds based on motivations, progress, and goals. For example, a school or college might create a learner’s schedule based on weekly academic interests and progress updates. Institutes also have to face personalized learning challenges and address them on time.

Every learner’s schedule is unique. But including various learning methods (often called modalities) is vital. As a result, the mix might involve project-based learning with a small group of students, independent work on complex tasks or particular skills, and one-on-one tutoring with an instructor. 

A personalized learning path enables students to work on varied skills simultaneously. However, that does not mean a school will let a learner fall far behind in any area. Instead, educators closely monitor each learner and offer extra help as needed.

Institutions Using Learner Profiles

This type of school or college keeps an up-to-date record that gives a deep understanding of each learner’s individual needs, strengths and weaknesses, motivations, progress, and goals. Personalized learning apps with a technology update these profiles far more often than a standard report card. Hence, these detailed updates help educators make decisions to improve student learning significantly. 

A student profile also aids learners in keeping track of their progress. It offers educators, students, and parents a way to know if they need improvements or changes in learning methods – before a learner performs poorly or fails.

Institutions Using Competency-Based Progression

Typically, schools or colleges continually evaluate students to monitor their progress toward specific goals in this personalized learning approach. This technique makes it clear to learners what they must do and master. The competencies may include knowledge, specific skills, and mindsets, such as developing resilience. 

Learners are given options of how and when to display their learning and mastery. For instance, a learner might work with an educator to weave certain mathematical concepts and skills into an internship at a retail shop. 

The learner might work on various competencies simultaneously. When they learn one, they move on to the next. Every student gets the required support or services to master the skills. Educators do not emphasize taking a test and getting a specific grade or failing. Instead, the focus is on continuous learning and having several chances to demonstrate knowledge.

Institutions Using Flexible Learning Environments

This type of learning adapts to the environment students are studying in based on how they learn best. It focuses on even the tiniest details, such as the physical setup of the classroom, how teachers are allocated, and how the school day is structured.

For instance, schools or colleges might look at techniques to allow teachers more time for small-group instruction. Of course, it is challenging to redesign how educators use classroom space, resources, and time. Nonetheless, this design thinking can help learner needs to reshape the learning environment.

Final Thoughts!

Although personalized learning isn’t widely used in institutions, and many aspects still need to be explored, this learning method can potentially reduce stigma around special education and meet the needs of students with thinking and learning differences.

Personalized learning can balance the educational process by focusing on learners’ strengths and interests. Additionally, it can support students in working on weaknesses and offering a customized path that engages their interests and helps them own their learning process.

Likewise, personalized learning platforms can offer students a chance to build self-advocacy skills. It motivates them to speak about their interests and needs. It empowers them to be equal partners in their learning journey.

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